Research Items (88)
- Jun 2019
Standard neurocognitive models of language processing have tended to obviate the need for incorporating emotion processes, while affective neuroscience theories have typically been concerned with the way in which people communicate their emotions, and have often simply not addressed linguistic issues. Here, we summarise evidence from temporal and spatial brain imaging studies that have investigated emotion effects on lexical, semantic and morphosyntactic aspects of language during the comprehension of single words and sentences. The evidence reviewed suggests that emotion is represented in the brain as a set of semantic features in a distributed sensory, motor, language and affective network. Also, emotion interacts with a number of lexical, semantic and syntactic features in different brain regions and timings. This is in line with the proposals of interactive neurocognitive models of language processing, which assume the interplay between different representational levels during on-line language comprehension.
There is extensive evidence showing that bilinguals activate the lexical and the syntactic representations of both languages in a nonselective way. However, the extent to which the lexical and the syntactic levels of representations interact during second language (L2) sentence processing and how those interactions are modulated by L2 proficiency remain unclear. This paper aimed to directly address these issues by using an online technique (eye-tracking) that is highly sensitive to the lexical and syntactic processes involved in sentence reading. To that purpose, native-speakers of European Portuguese (EP) learning English as L2 at intermediate and advanced levels of proficiency were asked to silently read temporally ambiguous L2 relative clause (RC) sentences disambiguated with a High-Attachment (HA) or Low-Attachment (LA) strategy while their eye-movements were monitored. Since EP and English native speakers differ in the way they process and comprehend this syntactic structure (EP: HA, English: LA), HA preferences were used as a marker of L1 RC syntax interference. Additionally, the cognate status of the complex NP that preceded the RC was manipulated to further analyze how the lexical co-activation of both languages would also affect the syntactic representations of the non-target (L1) language. Results showed cognate facilitation in early and late reading time measures regardless of L2 proficiency, and also that the cognate status of the complex NP impacted L2 reading performance, particularly at lower levels of L2 proficiency. These findings provide compelling evidence for a bilingual reading system that seems to be highly dynamic and interactive not only within each level of processing, but, importantly, across levels of representation. They also suggested that, as the level of L2 proficiency increases, L1 RC syntax interference becomes stronger, in a syntactic parser that seems to operate in a more integrated and nonselective way, with both strategies being equally available to guide L2 reading comprehension. Results are discussed attending to the current models of bilingual syntactic processing.
Several studies have argued that words evoking negative emotions, such as disgust, grab attention more than neutral words, and leave traces in memory that are more persistent. However, these conclusions are typically based on tasks requiring participants to process the semantic content of these words in a voluntarily manner. We sought to compare the involuntary attention grabbing power of disgusting and neutral words using them as rare and unexpected auditory distractors in a cross-modal oddball task, and then probing the participants’ memory for these stimuli in a surprise recognition task. Frequentist and Bayesian analyses converged to show that, compared to a standard tone, disgusting and neutral auditory words produced significant but equivalent levels of distraction in a visual categorization task, that they elicited comparable levels of memory discriminability in the incidental recognition task, and that the participants’ individual sensitivity to disgust did not influence the results. Our results suggest that distraction by unexpected words is not modulated by their emotional valence, at least when these words are task-irrelevant and are temporally and perceptually decoupled from the target stimuli.
The main aim of the present research was to explore the role of affective features beyond valence and arousal (i.e., the approach-withdrawal dimension) in visual word processing. For this purpose, fear-related words and anger-related words were compared in three tasks: a lexical decision task (LDT), a valence decision task (VDT) and an approach-distancing decision task (ADDT). Although these two types of words did not differ in the first two tasks, faster 'distancing' responses were given to anger-related words than to fear-related words in the ADDT. As long as these two types of words were matched in valence and arousal (among other variables), these results illustrate the need to consider other emotional dimensions (in this case, the approach-withdrawal dimension) beyond the two-dimensional perspective in order to account for the emotional effects in visual words processing and to describe how the affective space is organized. In addition, the results suggest a task-dependence effect: differential effects of fear and anger only emerged when participants were explicitly focused on the approach-withdrawal dimension. These findings are discussed in relation to motivationally-based mechanisms.
- Mar 2019
SUBTLEX-CAT is a word frequency and contextual diversity database for Catalan, obtained from a 278-million-word corpus based on subtitles supplied from broadcast Catalan television. Like all previous SUBTLEX corpora, it comprises subtitles from films and TV series. In addition, it includes a wider range of TV shows (e.g., news, documentaries, debates, and talk shows) than has been included in most previous databases. Frequency metrics were obtained for the whole corpus, on the one hand, and only for films and fiction TV series, on the other. Two lexical decision experiments revealed that the subtitle-based metrics outperformed the previously available frequency estimates, computed from either written texts or texts from the Internet. Furthermore, the metrics obtained from the whole corpus were better predictors than the ones obtained from films and fiction TV series alone. In both experiments, the best predictor of response times and accuracy was contextual diversity.
- Feb 2019
This study presents subjective ratings for 3, 022 Croatian words, which were evaluated on two affective dimensions (valence and arousal), and one lexico- semantic variable (concreteness). A sample of 933 Croatian native speakers rated the words online. Ratings showed high reliabilities for all three variables, as well as significant correlations with ratings from databases available in Spanish and English. A quadratic relation between valence and arousal was observed, with a tendency for arousal to increase for negative and positive words, and neutral words having the lowest arousal ratings. In addition, significant correlations were found between affective dimensions and word concreteness, suggesting that abstract words have a tendency to be more arousing and emotional than concrete words. The present database will allow experimental research in Croatian, a language with a considerable lack of psycholinguistic norms, by providing researchers with a useful tool in the investigation of the relationship between language and emotion for the South-Slavic group of languages.
Research into the effects of emotion on source memory (i.e., memory for certain contextual details of a stimulus, such as its location, color, or temporal context) has yielded inconsistent findings. Mather and her co-workers tried to account for such inconsistencies by pointing out the relevance of the characteristics of the feature examined. Specifically, they distinguished between intrinsic and extrinsic features (Mather, 2007) and between goal-relevant and goal-irrelevant information (Mather and Sutherland, 2011). In the current study, we investigated source memory for language, which is an intrinsic feature or words. Catalan-Spanish bilinguals were tested in three experiments involving a recognition task in which they were asked about the language of presentation (Catalan or Spanish) of emotional and neutral words. In Experiments 1 and 2, source memory for negative and neutral words was assessed. In Experiment 1 participants performed an intentional encoding task in which language was a goal-relevant feature. In Experiment 2, they did an incidental encoding task in which language was also goal-relevant. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 2 but negative words were replaced by positive words. The results showed an impairment in source memory for the language of presentation of emotional words when the encoding task was incidental, but not when it was intentional. Such impairment was observed with both negative words and positive words. The results are discussed in relation to the proposals of Mather and co-workers and point to the relevance of modulating factors, such as the intentional/incidental nature of encoding.
The present study explores the issue of why ambiguous words are recognized faster than unambiguous ones during word recognition. To this end we contrasted two different hypotheses: the semantic feedback hypothesis (Hino and Lupker in J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 22:1331–1356, 1996. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-15188.8.131.521), and the hypothesis proposed by Borowsky and Masson (J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cognit 22:63–85, 1996. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-73184.108.40.206). Although both hypotheses agree that ambiguous words benefit during recognition in that they engage more semantic activation, they disagree as to whether or not this greater semantic activation feeds back to the orthographic level, hence speeding up the orthographic coding of ambiguous words. Participants were presented with ambiguous and unambiguous words in two tasks, a lexical decision task (LDT) and a two-alternative forced-choice task (2AFC). We found differences between ambiguous and unambiguous words in both the LDT and the 2AFC tasks. These results suggest that the orthographic coding of ambiguous words is boosted during word processing. This finding lends support to the semantic feedback hypothesis.
- Jul 2018
- XII Congress of the Sociedad Española de Psicología Experimental (SEPEX) , XI Congress of the Sociedad Española de Psicofisiología y Neurociencia Cognitiva y Afectiva (SEPNECA), XXIV Congress of the Sezione Sperimentale - Associazione Italiana di Psicologia (AIP experimental). First Joint Congress of the SEPEX, SEPNECA and AIP experimental
Ambiguous words are usually recognized faster than unambiguous words in LDT. The reason seems to be that the multiple meanings of ambiguous words engage a lot of semantic activation during word processing. However, it is not clear how this enhanced semantic activation would facilitate recognition. In addition, several studies suggest that the ambiguity advantage is not due to number of meanings (NOM), but to relatedness of meanings (ROM). In this work we conducted a series of seven experiments to address some issues on ambiguous word processing. We recorded behavioral and EEG data (i. e., ERPs) during LDT to assess the role of NOM and ROM. We also examined whether the criteria used to select ambiguous words influences LDT results. Finally, we looked for the cause of the ambiguity advantage by using a 2AFC task . The results suggest that NOM facilitates recognition by triggering a large semantic-orthographic feedback. However, this facilitation only arises when NOM is obtained from participants' ratings (but not from the dictionary). Moreover, ROM seems to have no effect on word recognition.
- Jun 2018
Evidence from prior studies has shown an advantage in recognition memory for emotional compared to neutral words. Whether this advantage is short-lived or rather extends over longer periods, as well as whether the effect depends on words' valence (i.e., positive or negative), remains unknown. In the present ERP/EEG study, we investigated this issue by manipulating the lag distance (LAG-2, LAG-8 and LAG-16) between the presentation of old and new words in an online recognition memory task. LAG differences were observed at behavior, ERPs and in the theta frequency band. In line with previous studies, negative words were associated with faster reaction times, higher hit rates and increased amplitude in a positive ERP component between 386 and 564 ms compared to positive and neutral words. Remarkably, the interaction of LAG by EMOTION revealed that negative words were associated with better performance and larger ERPs amplitudes only at LAG-2. Also in the LAG-2 condition, emotional words (i.e., positive and negative words) induced a stronger desynchronization in the beta band between 386 and 542 ms compared to neutral words. These early enhanced memory effects for emotional words are discussed in terms of the Negative Emotional Valence Enhances Recapitulation (NEVER) model and the mobilization-minimization hypothesis.
- Jan 2018
We present here emoFinder (http://usc.es/pcc/emofinder), a Web-based search engine for Spanish word properties taken from different normative databases. The tool incorporates several subjective word properties for 16,375 distinct words. Although it focuses particularly on normative ratings for emotional dimensions (e.g., valence and arousal) and discrete emotional categories (fear, disgust, anger, happiness, and sadness), it also makes available ratings for other word properties that are known to affect word processing (e.g., concreteness, familiarity, contextual availability, and age of acquisition). The tool provides two main functionalities: Users can search for words matched on specific criteria with regard to the selected properties, or users can obtain the properties for a set of words. The output from emoFinder is highly customizable and can be accessed online or exported to a computer. The tool architecture is easily scalable, so that it can be updated to include word properties from new Spanish normative databases as they become available.
It is not clear whether multiple unrelated meanings inhibit or facilitate word recognition. Some studies have found a disadvantage for words having multiple meanings with respect to unambiguous words in lexical decision tasks (LDT), whereas several others have shown a facilitation for such words. In the present study, we argue that these inconsistent findings may be due to the approach employed to select ambiguous words across studies. To address this issue, we conducted three LDT experiments in which we varied the measure used to classify ambiguous and unambiguous words. The results suggest that multiple unrelated meanings facilitate word recognition. In addition, we observed that the approach employed to select ambiguous words may affect the pattern of experimental results. This evidence has relevant implications for theoretical accounts of ambiguous words processing and representation.
- Dec 2017
The present study investigates whether the emotional content of words has the same effect in the different languages of bilinguals by testing the effects of word concreteness, the type of task used, and language status. Highly proficient bilinguals of Catalan and Spanish who learned Catalan and Spanish in early childhood in a bilingual immersion context, and who still live in such a context, performed an affective decision task (Experiment 1) and a lexical decision task (Experiment 2) in both Catalan and Spanish. A different set of Catalan–Spanish bilinguals, who were proficient in English and who learned English after early childhood in an instructional setting, performed a lexical decision task in both Spanish and English (Experiment 3). In both tasks administered throughout the experiments, the experimental stimuli were concrete and abstract words that varied in their emotional connotation (i.e. positive, negative and neutral words) and were presented in the two languages involved. In the affective decision task, participants decided if the words had emotional content or not, and in the lexical decision task they decided if the strings of letters were real words or not. The three experiments also included an unexpected free recall task. Results showed that the emotional content of words affected bilinguals’ performance in all three tasks. In particular, there was a disadvantage in processing for negative words in both the affective and lexical decision tasks, and an advantage for positive words in the lexical decision and free recall tasks. Importantly, language only interacted with the other variables in Experiment 3, suggesting that language status is a relevant factor in determining the extent to which emotional processing has the same characteristics in the two languages.
- Nov 2017
Very few studies exist on the role of cross-language similarities in cognate word acquisition. Here we sought to explore, for the first time, the interplay of orthography (O) and phonology (P) during the early stages of cognate word acquisition, looking at children and adults with the same level of foreign language proficiency, and by using two variants of the word-association learning paradigm (auditory learning method vs. auditory + written method). Eighty participants (forty children and forty adults, native speakers of European Portuguese [EP]), learned a set of EP-Catalan cognate words and non-cognate words. Among the cognate words, the degree of orthographic and phonological similarity was manipulated. Half of the children and adult participants learned the new words via an L2 auditory and written-L1 word association method, while the other half learned the same words only through an L2 auditory-L1 word association method. Both groups were tested in an auditory recognition task and a go/no-go lexical decision task. Results revealed a disadvantage for children in comparison to adults, which was reduced in the auditory learning method. Furthermore, there was an advantage for cognates relative to non-cognates regardless of the age of participants. Importantly, there were modulations in cognate word processing as a function of the degree of O and P overlap which were restricted to children. The findings are discussed in light of the most relevant bilingual models of word recognition.
- Sep 2017
The discrete emotion theory proposes that affective experiences can be reduced to a limited set of universal “basic” emotions, most commonly identified as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. Here we present norms for 10,491 Spanish words for those five discrete emotions collected from a total of 2,010 native speakers, making it the largest set of norms for discrete emotions in any language to date. When used in conjunction with the norms from Hinojosa, Martínez-García et al. (Behavior Research Methods, 48, 272–284, 2016) and Ferré, Guasch, Martínez-García, Fraga, & Hinojosa (Behavior Research Methods, 49, 1082-1094, 2017), researchers now have access to ratings of discrete emotions for 13,633 Spanish words. Our norms show a high degree of inter-rater reliability and correlate highly with those from Ferré et al. (2017). Our exploration of the relationship between the five discrete emotions and relevant lexical and emotional variables confirmed findings of previous studies conducted with smaller datasets. The availability of such large set of norms will greatly facilitate the study of emotion, language and related fields. The norms are available as supplementary materials to this article.
- Aug 2017
The aim of this study was to investigate the role of discrete emotions in lexical processing and memory, focusing on disgust and fear. We compared neutral words to disgust-related words and fear-related words in three experiments. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants performed a lexical decision task (LDT), and in Experiment 3 an affective categorisation task. These tasks were followed by an unexpected memory task. The results of the LDT experiments showed slower reaction times for both types of negative words with respect to neutral words, plus a higher percentage of errors, this being more consistent for fear-related words (Experiments 1 and 2) than for disgust-related words (Experiment 2). Furthermore, only disgusting words exhibited a higher recall accuracy than neutral words in the memory task. Moreover, the advantage in memory for disgusting words disappeared when participants carried out an affective categorisation task during encoding (Experiment 3), suggesting that the superiority in memory for disgusting words observed in Experiments 1 and 2 could be due to greater elaborative processing. Taken together, these findings point to the relevance of discrete emotions in explaining the effects of the emotional content on lexical processing and memory.
In the present study we examined electrophysiological and behavioral correlates of ambiguous word processing. In a lexical decision task, participants were presented with ambiguous words with unrelated meanings (i.e., homonyms; e.g., bat), ambiguous words with related meanings (i.e., polysemes; e.g., newspaper), and unambiguous words (e.g., guitar). Ambiguous words elicited larger N400 amplitudes than unambiguous words and showed an advantage in RTs. Importantly, no differences were found between homonyms and polysemes, on either N400 amplitudes or in RTs. These results suggest that ambiguous words, regardless of the relatedness between their meanings, benefit from enhanced semantic activation in comparison to unambiguous words during word recognition.
Previous research has shown the impact of the emotional dimension of nouns (i.e., valence and arousal) on the completion of relative clauses (RC) that are preceded by a double antecedent (e.g.: Someone shot the servant (the first noun-phrase, NP1) of the actress (the second noun-phrase, NP2) who was on the balcony) (Fraga, Piñeiro, Acuña-Fariña, Redondo & García-Orza, 2012). The present study explored for the first time the role of emotional valence, specifically emotional positive nouns, on RC disambiguation in a self-paced reading experiment. Two types of NP1-NP2 relationships were compared: emotional-neutral vs. neutral-emotional. Results showed NP1 preferences in the emotional-neutral condition whereas no preferences were found in the neutral-emotional condition. We conclude that during reading, the emotional properties of nouns play a role in disambiguation preferences: RC attachment preferences can be neutralized when emotional factors are manipulated. The results are discussed within the framework of current models of sentence processing and with reference to the controversial differences between comprehension and production.
PDP models of word recognition assume that ambiguous words are represented with a one-to-many mapping between orthography and semantics. Accordingly, this inconsistent mapping would lead to a slower and less accurate semantic coding for these words with respect to unambiguous words. Taking this into account, PDP models predict a disadvantage for ambiguous words in tasks requiring a high level of semantic engagement. Furthermore, they also predict that meaning similarity of ambiguous words would influence semantic coding, being faster and more accurate for words with related meanings (i.e., polysemes, e.g., newspaper) than for words with unrelated meanings (i.e., homonyms, e.g., bat). To test these predictions, we examined the processing of polysemes, homonyms and unambiguous words in two semantic categorization tasks. The results showed a different pattern of results for polysemes and homonyms with respect to unambiguous words: polysemes facilitated categorization responses, whereas homonyms inhibited them. This evidence suggests that both number of meanings and meaning similarity influences semantic coding during word processing. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to PDP models of word recognition.
- Apr 2017
- Póster presentado en el XIII International Symposium of Psycholinguistics.
Many studies hypothesize that words evoking negative emotions such as disgust capture attention and leave persistent traces in memory. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the effect of neutral and disgust-related words as rare and unexpected distractors in a cross-modal oddball task and then probing the participants’ memory for these stimuli in a surprise recognition task. Oddball studies show that (1) rare and unexpected changes in an otherwise repetitive sequence of task-irrelevant sounds (deviant vs. standard sounds) ineluctably break through attentional filters and yield longer response times in an ongoing task; and that (2) deviant words are semantically processed. Our results showed that, compared to a standard tone, both types of words produced equivalent levels of distraction in a visual digit categorization task, and identical memory performance in the incidental recognition task. These results indicate that task-irrelevant disgust-related words, despite capturing attention, do not impact on-going performance or yield stronger memory traces than neutral words. Combined with recent findings suggesting equivalent distraction effects for neutral, negative, and taboo words, our results suggest that the emotional valence of deviant words does not modulate deviance distraction, at least when the primary task makes little demand on semantic processing.
- Apr 2017
- XIII International Symposium of Psycholinguistics.
EmoFinder is a web-based search engine for Spanish word properties/dimensions from different normative databases. It makes available a large number of these properties for more than 30,000 words, mainly focusing on normative ratings for emotional dimensions (e.g., valence, arousal) and discrete emotional categories (fear, disgust, anger, happiness, and sadness). Yet, it also includes ratings from other relevant word properties, such as familiarity, concreteness, contextual availability, and age-of-acquisition. Users are allowed to search for words matched on some criteria on the selected properties, or to obtain these properties for a set of words. The output from EmoFinder can be accessed online or easily exported to the computer in a CSV file. The tool will be updated periodically to include word properties/dimensions from new available Spanish normative databases.
In the present study, we contrasted the dimensional perspective and the discrete emotions perspective in emotional word processing and memory, by focusing on disgust and fear. To this aim, we selected a set of disgust related words and fear related words that were matched in valence and arousal. These words were compared to neutral words in two lexical decision tasks (LDT), each followed by an unexpected memory task. We observed a disadvantage in lexical decision times for both types of emotional words with respect to neutral words, and a higher percentage of errors for fearful words with respect to the other ones. Importantly, we also found a superiority in memory for disgust related words. To further examine this memory enhancement for disgust related words, the same stimuli used in the LDT experiments were tested in an affective categorization task and in a later memory task. Contrary to when words were presented in LDT, disgusting words failed to show a superiority in memory. These findings suggest a different role for fear and disgust on word processing and memory: while fear would have a greater impact on lexical access, disgust would mainly influence post-stimulus elaboration, by producing a deeper word processing.
Previous word recognition studies have shown that the pupillary response is sensitive to a word’s frequency. However, such a pupillary effect may be due to the process of executing a response, instead of being an index of word processing. With the aim of exploring this possibility, we recorded the pupillary responses in two experiments involving a lexical decision task (LDT). In the first experiment, participants completed a standard LDT, whereas in the second they performed a delayed LDT. The delay in the response allowed us to compare pupil dilations with and without the response execution component. The results showed that pupillary response was modulated by word frequency in both the standard and the delayed LDT. This finding supports the reliability of using pupillometry for word recognition research. Importantly, our results also suggest that tasks that do not require a response during pupil recording lead to clearer and stronger effects.
This study presents semantic ambiguity norms for 530 Spanish words. Two subjective measures of semantic ambiguity and two subjective measures of relatedness of ambiguous word meanings were collected. In addition, two objective measures of semantic ambiguity were included. Furthermore, subjective ratings were obtained for some relevant lexicosemantic variables, such as concreteness, familiarity, emotional valence, arousal, and age of acquisition. In sum, the database overcomes some of the limitations of the published databases of Spanish ambiguous words; in particular, the scarcity of measures of ambiguity, the lack of relatedness of ambiguous word meanings measures, and the absence of a set of unambiguous words. Thus, it will be very helpful for researchers interested in exploring semantic ambiguity as well as for those using semantic ambiguous words to study language processing in clinical populations.
- Jul 2016
- EPS/SEPEx Oxford Meeting.
In contrast to previous studies, the results of the present study show a clear preference for attaching low the ambiguous RC when it modifies the object of the main verb.
- Jul 2016
The two main theoretical accounts of the human affective space are the dimensional perspective and the discrete-emotion approach. In recent years, several affective norms have been developed from a dimensional perspective, including ratings for valence and arousal. In contrast, the number of published datasets relying on the discrete-emotion approach is much lower. There is a need to fill this gap, considering that discrete emotions have an effect on word processing above and beyond those of valence and arousal. In the present study, we present ratings from 1,380 participants for a set of 2,266 Spanish words in five discrete emotion categories: happiness, anger, fear, disgust, and sadness. This will be the largest dataset published to date containing ratings for discrete emotions. We also present, for the first time, a fine-grained analysis of the distribution of words into the five emotion categories. This analysis reveals that happiness words are the most consistently related to a single, discrete emotion category. In contrast, there is a tendency for many negative words to belong to more than one discrete emotion. The only exception is disgust words, which overlap least with the other negative emotions. Normative valence and arousal data already exist for all of the words included in this corpus. Thus, the present database will allow researchers to design studies to contrast the predictions of the two most influential theoretical perspectives in this field. These studies will undoubtedly contribute to a deeper understanding of the effects of emotion on word processing.
- May 2016
The cognate facilitation effect (i.e., a processing advantage for cognates compared to non-cognates) is an evidence of language non-selectivity in bilingual lexical access. Several studies using behavioral or electrophysiological measures have demonstrated that this effect is modulated by the degree of formal overlap between translations. However, it has never been tested with a psychophysiological measure such as pupillometry. In the present study we replicate the cognate facilitation effect by examining reaction times and pupil responses. Our results endorse pupillometry as a promising tool for bilingual research, and confirm the modulation of the cognate effect by the degree of formal similarity.
This study presents normative data for 386 ambiguous and 144 unambiguous Spanish words. Two subjective measures of semantic ambiguity and two subjective measures of relatedness of ambiguous words’ meanings (ROM) were collected. Furthermore, subjective ratings were obtained for some relevant lexico-semantic variables, such as concreteness, familiarity, emotional valence, arousal and age-of-acquisition. The present database overcomes some of the limitations of the published databases of Spanish ambiguous words; namely, the scarcity of measures of ambiguity, the lack of subjective ROM measures, the lack of values concerning relevant variables that are known to affect word processing, and the absence of a set of unambiguous words. In addition, we conducted several analyses to assess the validity of our ambiguity and ROM measures. Regression analyses on lexical decision times showed the predictive power of these measures, supporting their psychological validity. Moreover, correlational analyses revealed significant correlations between them and objective measures of ambiguity (i.e., dictionary entries and dictionary senses). In sum, the database will be very helpful for researchers interested in lexical ambiguity research, specially, to assist them in categorizing ambiguous and unambiguous words, in categorizing ambiguous words that differ in the relatedness of their meanings, and in preventing any experimental confound due to uncontrolled variables.
- May 2016
Many studies investigating emotional word processing have relied on the two-dimensional model which focuses on the dimensions of valence and arousal. An alternative account, the so-called discrete emotion theories, assumes that all emotions can be derived from a limited number of universal affective states such as fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and happiness. To contrast these two models it is necessary to conduct experiments with words characterized in valence and arousal as well as in discrete emotion categories. However, most of the published affective norms have been elaborated from the two-dimensional model. We present a normative database for 2266 Spanish words rated by 1380 participants in five discrete emotional categories, including happiness, anger, fear, disgust and sadness. We investigated the relationship among the five emotional categories with a multiple correspondence analysis. Furthermore, we explored the pattern of correlations between the emotional categories and the valence and arousal ratings for these words reported in other affective databases (Ferré et al., 2012; Guasch et al., in press; Redondo et al., 2007). We also studied the correlations with other semantic variables, such as concreteness. Finally, as all the words of the Spanish ANEW database were included in this study, and ratings for discrete categories are available for the English ANEW database we examined the correspondence of these ratings across languages. Overall, the results indicate that this new corpus is a suitable tool for conducting experiments to examine effects of the affective category on word processing.
When processing Spanish ambiguous relative clauses (RC) modifying a complex NP (CNP; e.g., someone shot the servant [NP1] of the actress [NP2] who… [RC]), Spanish speakers have a preference for attaching the RC to NP1. Recently, Grillo & Costa (2014) identified a confounding factor in the literature on RC attachment. They hypothesized that once this confounding factor is excluded, genuine RCs are initially attached to NP2. On the other hand, Fraga et al. (2012) found in sentence completion studies that emotional words tend to drag the attachment preference towards NP1 or NP2 depending on where the emotional word appears. So far, there are no data about an emotionality effect on attachment preferences when using online reading tasks. The present eye-tracking study aims to fill this gap, by excluding the confounding factor identified by Grillo & Costa (i.e., the use of perceptual verbs). Twenty quartets of Spanish ambiguous RC sentences were built by crossing the factors attachment site (NP1 vs. NP2) and emotionality of NP1 (Neutral vs Emotional). Gender agreement was used as the disambiguating information. Sentences such as the following (adapted to English) were used: —The boy called the assistant of the seller who (he/she) was sitting behind the counter. —The boy called the girlfriend of the seller who (he/she) was sitting behind the counter. The results show that in the neutral condition participants initially attach the RC to NP2. In the emotional condition this preference is reduced, showing that emotionality has a modulatory effect on RC attachment preferences.
In the domain of bilingualism, a main issue of interest has been to determine whether the two languages are shared at a conceptual level and which variables modulate the access to the conceptual system. In this study, we focused on the effects of two variables related to word-type. We tested proficient unbalanced Spanish–English bilinguals in a masked translation priming paradigm conducted in the two translation directions (L1 to L2, and L2 to L1), by orthogonally manipulating for the first time concreteness and cognate status. The stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) was also manipulated (50 ms vs 100 ms). Results revealed modulations in masked priming effects as a function of cognate status and translation direction. However, the effect of concreteness was only observed at the long SOA. The findings are discussed in light of the most relevant models of bilingual memory, mainly the Distributed Feature Model (de Groot, 1992a).
Researchers have recently introduced various LexTALE-type word recognition tests in order to assess vocabulary size in a second language (L2) mastered by participants. These tests correlate well with other measures of language proficiency in unbalanced bilinguals whose second language ability is well below the level of their native language. In the present study, we investigated whether LexTALE-type tests also discriminate at the high end of the proficiency range. In several regions of Spain, people speak both the regional language (e.g., Catalan or Basque) and Spanish to very high degrees. Still, because of their living circumstances, some consider themselves as either Spanish-dominant or regional-language dominant. We showed that these two groups perform differently on the recently published Spanish Lextale-Esp: The Spanish-dominant group had significantly higher scores than the Catalan-dominant group. We also showed that the noncognate words of the test have the highest discrimination power. This indicates that the existing Lextale-Esp can be used to estimate proficiency differences in highly proficient bilinguals with Spanish as an L2, and that a more sensitive test could be built by replacing the cognates.
- Dec 2015
Emotional stimuli have been repeatedly demonstrated to be better remembered than neutral ones. The aim of the present study was to test whether this advantage in memory is mainly produced by the affective content of the stimuli or it can be rather accounted for by factors such as semantic relatedness or type of encoding task. The valence of the stimuli (positive, negative and neutral words that could be either semantically related or unrelated) as well as the type of encoding task (focused on either familiarity or emotionality) was manipulated. The results revealed an advantage in memory for emotional words (either positive or negative) regardless of semantic relatedness. Importantly, this advantage was modulated by the encoding task, as it was reliable only in the task which focused on emotionality. These findings suggest that congruity with the dimension attended at encoding might contribute to the superiority in memory for emotional words, thus offering us a more complex picture of the underlying mechanisms behind the advantage for emotional information in memory.
- Nov 2015
Studies of semantic variables (e.g., concreteness) and affective variables (i.e., valence and arousal) have traditionally tended to run in different directions. However, in recent years there has been growing interest in studying the relationship, as well as the potential overlaps, between the two. This article describes a database that provides subjective ratings for 1,400 Spanish words for valence, arousal, concreteness, imageability, context availability, and familiarity. Data were collected online through a process involving 826 university students. The results showed a high interrater reliability for all of the variables examined, as well as high correlations between our affective and semantic values and norms currently available in other Spanish databases. Regarding the affective variables, the typical quadratic correlation between valence and arousal ratings was obtained. Likewise, significant correlations were found between the lexico-semantic variables. Importantly, we obtained moderate negative correlations between emotionality and both concreteness and imageability. This is in line with the claim that abstract words have more affective associations than concrete ones (Kousta, Vigliocco, Vinson, Andrews, & Del Campo, 2011). The present Spanish database is suitable for experimental research into the effects of both affective properties and lexico-semantic variables on word processing and memory.
In the present study we obtained behavioral and ERP differences between ambiguous and unambiguous words. Ambiguous words were recognized faster and more accurately than unambiguous word, and they showed a larger N400 amplitude than unambiguous words. On the contrary, no differences were found between polysemes and homonyms. These results support the existence of an ambiguity advantage effect rather than a polyseme advantage, suggesting that number of meanings is a more relevant factor than relatedness of meanings in the processing of ambiguous words. According to some authors (Hino & Lupker, 1996), the multiple meanings of ambiguous words would interact during word processing by providing them a larger semantic-to-ortographic feedback, and thus facilitating word recognition. Our ERP results provide novel evidence for such account, showing differences in the N400 semantic component between ambiguous and unambiguous words
A processing advantage for emotional words relative to neutral words has been widely demonstrated in the monolingual domain (e.g., Kuperman et al., 2014). It is also well-known that, in bilingual speakers who have a certain degree of proficiency in their second language, the effects of the affective content of words on cognition are not restricted to the native language (e.g., Ferré et al., 2010). The aim of the present study was to test whether this facilitatory effect can also be obtained during the very early stages of word acquisition. In the context of a novel word learning paradigm, participants were trained on a set of Basque words by associating them to their Spanish translations. Words’ concreteness and affective valence were orthogonally manipulated. Immediately after the learning phase and 1 week later, participants were tested in a Basque go-no go lexical decision task as well as in a translation task in which they had to provide the Spanish translation of the Basque words. A similar pattern of results was found across tasks and sessions, revealing main effects of concreteness and emotional content as well as an interaction between both factors. Thus, the emotional content facilitated the acquisition of abstract, but not concrete words, in the new language, with a more reliable effect for negative words than for positive ones. The results are discussed in light of the embodied theoretical view of semantic representation proposed by Kousta et al. (2011).
A consistent finding in past research about ambiguity was that ambiguous words are recognized faster than unambiguous words. However, Rodd et al. (2002) observed an ambiguity advantage for polysemous words (ambiguous words with related meanings), but not for homonymous words (ambiguous words with unrelated meanings). Thus, Rodd et al. concluded that the ambiguity advantage is caused exclusively by polysemous words. In order to test this proposal, we conducted two lexical decision experiments. In Experiment 1 we classified ambiguous words using a dictionary approach, obtaining the same results as Rodd et al. In contrast, in Experiment 2, we used subjective norms to classify ambiguous words and we observed an advantage for both polysemous and homonymous words. Our results suggest that the approach used for classifying ambiguous words is crucial for the ambiguity advantage. These findings have relevant implications for our understanding of the processing of semantic ambiguity.
- Feb 2015
Crutch and Warrington (2005, 2010) proposed the different organizational frameworks theory, to account for differences in processing between concrete and abstract words. They argued that there is a qualitative difference between these two types of words in memory: Concrete concepts would be primarily organized in terms of semantic similarity whereas abstract concepts would be mainly organized by their association with other concepts. Evidence in support of this proposal has been mostly obtained with neuropsychological populations and, to a lesser extent, with healthy participants. In the present work, we tested the different organizational frameworks theory by using, for the first time, a semantic priming paradigm both within-language and across-languages. The results revealed that there was priming for both semantically similar and associative relations when words were concrete. However, with abstract words, priming was only observed when pairs and targets were associated. These results do not support to the proposal of Crutch and co-workers, suggesting that the experimental paradigm as well as the type of relations tested may modulate the pattern of effects obtained with concrete and abstract words.
Recent research has shown that cognate word processing is modulated by variables such as degree of orthographic and phonological overlap of cognate words and task requirements in such a way that the typical preferential processing observed in the literature for cognate words relative to non-cognate words can be annulled or even reversed (Comesaña et al., 2012; Dijkstra, Miwa, Brummelhuis, Sappelli, & Baayen, 2010). These findings beg the question about the precise representation and processing of identical cognates (e.g., plata-plata, silver in Spanish and Catalan, respectively) and non-identical cognates (e.g., braç-brazo [arm]). The aim of the present study was to further explore this issue by manipulating for the 1st time cross-linguistic similarities of identical and non-identical cognate words as well as stimuli list composition. Proficient balanced Catalan-Spanish bilinguals performed a lexical decision task in Spanish. In Experiment 1 identical and non-identical cognates along with non-cognates made up the experimental list, whereas in Experiment 2 identical cognates were excluded from the list. Results showed modulations in cognate processing as a function of their degree of orthographic and phonological overlap. These results confirm prior findings regarding the processing of cognates when cross-linguistic similarities are taken into account. Most important, the direction of the cognate effect was affected by the stimuli list composition (i.e., the preferential processing for cognate words was restricted to the list containing identical cognates). Results have important implications for the Bilingual Interactive Activation Plus model (BIA+; Dijkstra & van Heuven, 2002), especially regarding identical and non-identical cognate word representation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
The present study introduces the first Spanish database with normative ratings of semantic similarity for 185 word triplets. Each word triplet is constituted by a target word (e.g., guisante [pea]) and two semantically related and nonassociatively related words: a word highly related in meaning to the target (e.g., judía [bean]), and a word less related in meaning to the target (e.g., patata [potato]). The degree of meaning similarity was assessed by 332 participants by using a semantic similarity rating task on a 9-point scale. Pairs having a value of semantic similarity ranging from 5 to 9 were classified as being more semantically related, whereas those with values ranging from 2 to 4.99 were considered as being less semantically related. The relative distance between the two pairs for the same target ranged from 0.48 to 5.07 points. Mean comparisons revealed that participants rated the more similar words as being significantly more similar in meaning to the target word than were the less similar words. In addition to the semantic similarity norms, values of concreteness and familiarity of each word in a triplet are provided. The present database can be a very useful tool for scientists interested in designing experiments to examine the role of semantics in language processing. Since the variable of semantic similarity includes a wide range of values, it can be used as either a continuous or a dichotomous variable. The full database is available in the supplementary materials.
- Jan 2014
Affective priming occurs when responses to a target are facilitated when it is preceded by a prime congruent in valence. We conducted two experiments in order to test whether this is a genuine emotional effect or rather it can be accounted for by semantic relatedness between primes and targets. With this aim, semantic relatedness and emotional congruence between primes and targets were orthogonally manipulated. Participants performed a lexical decision task. In Experiment 1 we tested concrete words and in Experiment 2 we tested abstract words. We obtained both an affective priming effect and a semantic priming effect that were not modulated by words' concreteness. Furthermore, there was affective priming regardless of whether primes and targets were semantically related or unrelated. These results suggest that affective priming is a genuine emotional effect.
- Jul 2013
Emotional words are better remembered than neutral words in the first language. Ferré, García, Fraga, Sánchez-Casas and Molero (2010) found this emotional effect also for second language words by using an encoding task focused on emotionality. The aim of the present study was to test whether the same effect can also be observed with encoding tasks not related to emotionality, as has been reported in monolinguals. We tested highly proficient bilinguals of Catalan and Spanish that were dominant in one of these two languages. At the encoding phase, we directed their attention to words’ features other than emotionality (participants had to either rate words’ concreteness or count the number of vowels they had). In both cases, we obtained an advantage for emotional words independently of the language in which they appeared. These results suggest that the emotional effect on memory has the same characteristics in the two languages of a bilingual.
NIM is Web-based software developed to help experimenters with some of the usual tasks carried out in psycholinguistic studies. It allows the user to search for words according to several variables, such as length, matching substrings, lexical frequency, or part of speech, in English, Spanish, and Catalan. NIM also provides the user with the possibilities to obtain different word metrics, such as lexical frequency, length, and part of speech; to find intralanguage and cross-language lexical neighbors; and to get control words for critical stimuli. Regardless of the language used, the program also enables the user to get the orthographic similarity between word pairs and to identify repeated items in lists of experimental stimuli. NIM is free and is publicly available at http://psico.fcep.urv.cat/utilitats/nim/ .
The study presented in this paper aimed to investigate the pattern of semantic priming effects, under masked and unmasked conditions, in the lexical decision task, manipulating type of semantic relation and associative strength. Three different kinds of word relations were examined in two experiments: only-semantically related words [e.g., codo (elbow)-rodilla (knee)] and semantic/associative related words with strong [e.g., mesa (table)-silla (chair) and weak association strength [e.g., sapo (toad)-rana (frog)]. In Experiment 1 a masked priming procedure was used with a prime duration of 56 ms, and in Experiment 2, the prime was presented unmasked for 150 ms. The results showed that there were masked priming effects with strong associates, but no evidence of these effects was found with weak associates or only-semantic related word pairs. When the prime was presented unmasked, the three types of relations produced significant priming effects and they were not influenced by association strength.
Previous evidence has shown that word pairs that are either related in form (e. g., ruc-berro; donkey-watercress) or very closely semantically related (e. g., ruc-caballo, donkey-horse) produce interference effects in a translation recognition task (Ferre et al., 2006; Guasch et al., 2008). However, these effects are not observed when the words have a less close semantic relation (e.g., ruc-oso, donkey-bear). The lack of interference in less similar words could be due to the low level of activation of the corresponding semantic representations by the time the translation decision has to be made. The present experiments tested this possibility using the same materials as the previous studies but decreasing from 500 ms to 250 ms the presentation time of the word to be translated. Performance of highly proficient bilinguals of Spanish and Catalan was examined in two experiments. Catalan-Spanish translation direction was tested in Experiment 1 and Spanish-Catalan direction in Experiment 2. The results showed significant effects only with form and very close semantic relations, but not in the case of less closely semantically related words. The pattern of results was the same, regardless of translation direction and language dominance.
This study aimed to determine if access to meaning can be directly achieved from the words in the two languages, examining the influence of the degree of semantic overlap between related words across languages in the pattern of priming effects. Nonassociative semantically related words (members of the same category) were used, avoiding explicitly associative relationships. Using a priming paradigm, highly proficient Catalan–Spanish bilinguals were visually presented with pairs of words that either were translations of each other, had a very close semantic relationship (in terms of shared features), a close semantic relationship, or no semantic relationship at all. Participants performed either a lexical decision task (Experiment 1) or a semantic decision task (Experiment 2). The main results of the study were the same in both language directions (Spanish–Catalan and Catalan–Spanish), showing that the degree of semantic overlap (in terms of shared features) between words in different languages can modulate priming effects, regardless of the language of the prime and the task used. These results demonstrate that there is cross-language activation of shared semantic representations and, thus, that highly proficient bilinguals can have direct access to word meaning from the two languages.
Emotional words are increasingly used in the study of word processing. To elucidate whether the experimental effects obtained with these words are due either to their affective content or to other semantic characteristics, it is necessary to conduct experiments with affectively valenced words obtained from different semantic categories. In the present article, we present affective ratings for 380 Spanish words belonging to three semantic categories: animals, people, and objects. The norms are based on the assessments made by 504 participants, who rated about 47 words either in valence and arousal, by using the Self-Assessment Manikin (Bradley & Lang, Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 25, 49-59. 1994), or in concreteness and familiarity. These ratings will help researchers select stimuli for experiments in which both the affective properties of words and their membership to a given semantic category have to be taken into account. The database is available as an online supplement for this article.
- Sep 2011
- 17th European Society for Cognitive Psychology Conferenc
Emotionally charged words are usually better remembered than neutral words. In the current study we focused on memory for emotional words in bilinguals and examined the influence of some variables that might modulate the effect of emotionality of second-language words on recall. We tested memory for positive, negative and neutral words of two groups of proficient bilinguals of Spanish and Catalan who had acquired the second language early in life in an immersion context and who differed in their language dominance. We also tested a group of proficient Spanish–English bilinguals who had learned the second language later in life in an instruction setting. The three groups showed a superiority in recall for emotional words that was of the same magnitude in their first as in their second language. These results suggest that neither language dominance, nor the type of context, the age of second language acquisition, or the similarity between languages, seem to have any effect on memory for emotional words in the second language. They also indicate that, at least in proficient bilinguals, and when memory tasks are used, words seem to have the same emotional intensity in the first and in the second language.
- Dec 2008
This study explores how proficiency in a second language determines the way that lexical and semantic representations are functionally connected in bilingual memory by testing three groups of participants (beginning and intermediate Spanish-Catalan learners and highly proficient bilinguals). The experiment reported examines how form and semantic manipulations affect the performance of these groups in a translation recognition task using three types of word relations (very close and close semantically related word pairs and form-related pairs). The results reveal that form manipulation affects the performance of the three participant groups, whereas the influence of semantic relations depends on the participants' level of proficiency. Results are discussed within the framework of the Revised Hierarchical Model (Kroll & Stewart, 1994).
- Apr 2007
Most theoretical proposals about the bilingual lexicon include representations at the levels of form (orthographic and phonological) and meaning (conceptual). The degree of shared representations across languages at either level has been a matter of dispute in recent times. A number of studies using different tasks and experimental paradigms have shown that the cognate status of translations is a relevant factor concerning the relationship between words across languages. Cognate translations are word pairs that share similar form and meaning across two languages (e.g. arbre-árbol), in contrast with so-called false friends (which are only form-related, such as fleca-fleco) and non-cognate translations (which only share their meanings, e.g. sona-arena). In this article, we review a series of masked priming experiments across languages with competent Spanish-English and Catalan-Spanish bilinguals, and report a new masked priming experiment carried out with Catalan-Spanish bilinguals in which the degree of form overlap between cognate pairs was manipulated. The results of the experiment and the evidence reviewed suggest that form similarity by itself cannot account for the priming effects obtained with cognate words.
Las principales propuestas teóricas sobre el léxico bilingüe asumen dos niveles de representación: el nivel de la representación de la forma (ortográfica y fonológica) y el nivel de representación conceptual (semántico). El grado en que estos dos niveles de representación son compartidos por las dos lenguas ha sido objeto de interés creciente en los últimos años. Distintos estudios utilizando diferentes tareas y paradigmas experimentales han mostrado que el estatus de traducción cognaticia desempeña un papel relevante a la hora de determinar cómo se relacionan las palabras de las dos lenguas en estos dos niveles de representación. Las traducciones cognaticias son pares de palabras que se parecen tanto en la forma como el significado (por ejemplo, arbre-árbol) y contrastan con los falsos amigos (sólo relacionados en la forma; por ejemplo, fleca-fleco) y las traducciones no-cognaticias (sólo comparten su significado; por ejemplo, sorra-arena). En este artículo se revisan una serie de experimentos de priming enmascarado entre lenguas llevados a cabo con bilingües competentes de español y de inglés y de español y catalán. Asimismo, se presenta un experimento realizado con bilingües de español y de catalán, en el que se ha utilizado también el priming enmascarado, manipulando el grado de solapamiento formal entre traducciones cognaticias. Los resultados de este experimento junto con la evidencia revisada sugieren que la semejanza en la forma no puede dar cuenta de los efectos de priming que se observan en palabras cognaticias.
- Dec 2006
The present study investigates the developmental aspect of the revised hierarchical model (Kroll & Stewart, 1994) concerning the access to the conceptual store from the second language (L2). We manipulated the level of proficiency and age of L2 acquisition. We tested Spanish-Catalan bilinguals (49 early proficient bilinguals, 28 late proficient bilinguals, and 28 late nonproficient bilinguals) in a translation recognition task in which they had to decide whether the second of two words was the correct translation of the first. The second word of the pair could be the true translation, a word related in form, a word more or less related in meaning, or an unrelated word. The results showed that both early and late proficient bilinguals were more sensitive to the semantic than to the form manipulation, but only in the case of words with a very close meaning. On the contrary, the late nonproficient group exhibited larger effects of the form than of the semantic manipulation.
In this study, I investigated students' memories of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, carried out by Al Qaeda terrorists against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. Participants completed on two occasions (2 weeks and 8 months after the events took place) a memory questionnaire that included an assessment of the phenomenal richness of their memories. The results showed that the participants remembered very well the circumstances in which they first heard about the terrorist attacks, that they were very confident about this information, and that these memories were characterized by a high phenomenal richness. Over time, there was a decrease in all of these variables, but people's ratings of phenomenology and confidence were still very high.
Semantic priming has been a widely used paradigm in research about semantic memory. In this study we tested the effects of the degree of semantic similarity between primes and targets (defined in terms of shared features) in semantic priming. We selected pairs of semantically related words to be used as primes and targets by using a similarity rating task and a feature generation task. Through these two tasks we obtained prime–target pairs that were more or less related in meaning (very close and close pairs). We tested these pairs in a lexical decision task (Experiment 1) and in a semantic decision task (Experiment 2). In both experiments, we obtained evidence of automatic semantic priming in both the very close and the close semantic conditions. Furthermore, in both tasks we found that priming was higher for very close than close semantic words. On the basis of these findings, we can conclude that the amount of automatic semantic priming appears to depend on the degree of semantic similarity between primes and targets.
In this study we tested whether subjects remember affectively valenced stimuli better than neutral stimuli when their attention is not focused on the affective charge of the stimuli during encoding. We tested memory for positive, negative, and neutral words in three memory tasks and using two encoding conditions (physical and semantic). Our results show that subjects remember affectively valenced stimuli better than neutral stimuli when they encode them according to their emotional content as well as to other features of the stimuli. However, although both positive and negative words are better remembered than neutral ones when semantically encoded, only positive words are better remembered than neutral ones when physically encoded. These results suggest that the affective charge of a stimulus (especially when positive) can affect retention even when a subject's attention has not focused on it during encoding.
Emotional stimuli are better remembered and recognized than neutral ones. This advantage for emotional stimuli has been repeatedly obtained when testing long-term retention. However, there are contradictory results concerning retention of emotional information when short retention intervals are used. The aim of the present study was, on the one hand, to test the effect of retention interval on memory for emotional stimuli (Experiment 1). The results showed that emotional information is better remembered than neutral information in both immediate and delayed memory tests, suggesting that the advantage for emotional information is not limited to long retention intervals. On the other hand, I tried to test the proposals made by Christianson and Nilsson (1984) and Bower (1992). These authors suggested that the advantage for emotional stimuli could be explained as emotional stimuli spending more processing capacity during acquisition, thus rendering less capacity available to encode simultaneously presented information (Experiments 2 and 3). Results showed that concurrent presentation of emotional stimuli did not inhibit the recall of neutral stimuli. These findings do not seem to support the proposals of Christianson and Nilsson (1984) and Bower (1992). According to these results, some mechanisms other than a greater spending of processing capacity have to be involved in the advantage for emotional information in memory.
- Aug 2002
Memory for emotional stimuli is higher than for neutral stimuli. Although this is a well established phenomenon, its mechanism is not clear. Christianson (1992) made a proposal concerning such a mechanism. He suggested that the higher retention of emotional stimuli over neutral ones could be due to some mechanism not involving deliberate attention. The present work has been aimed to investigate such a proposal by testing memory for emotional and neutral pictures and orienting subjects' attention during encoding to either the emotional properties of the stimuli or to their physical appearance. The results suggest that the emotional properties of the stimuli can have an effect on their retention even when subject's attention during encoding has not been deliberately directed to such properties.
A pesar de tratarse de un fenómeno bien establecido, no está claro el mecanismo de la superioridad de la información emocional respecto a la neutra en la retención. Una de las propuestas acerca de tal mecanismo fue realizada por Christianson (1992). Según este autor, el mayor recuerdo de los estímulos emocionales podría deberse, en parte, a algún mecanismo que no implicara atención deliberada. El presente trabajo ha pretendido investigar esta propuesta evaluando el recuerdo de imágenes neutras y con contenido emocional y dirigiendo la atención de los sujetos durante la codificación, bien a las propiedades emocionales de los estímulos, bien a su aspecto físico. Los resultados indican que las propiedades emocionales de los estímulos tienen un efecto en su retención incluso cuando durante la codificación la atención no se ha dirigido deliberadamente a ellas.
- Sep 2001
El objetivo del presente trabajo fue poner a prueba algunas de las predicciones del modelo jerárquico revisado, propuesto por Kroll y sus colaboradores (Kroll, 1993; Kroll y Sholl, 1992; Kroll y Stewart, 1994) para intentar explicar la organización de la memoria bilingüe. Para ello, sujetos bilingües competentes de castellano y alemán y sujetos a los cuales se les habían enseñado los nombres ficticios de cinco colores en alemán (sujetos principiantes) realizaron una versión bilingüe (castellano-alemán) de la tarea de Stroop. Los resultados mostraron que tanto en los sujetos bilingües como en los principiantes se producía una interferencia intralengua y entre lenguas. Los resultados no confirmaron la predicción del modelo jerárquico revisado respecto a la representación léxica y conceptual en la memoria bilingüe en sujetos principiantes. Sugirieron, en cambio, que las conexiones entre la segunda lengua (L2) y el sistema conceptual podrían empezar a establecerse ya en las fases iniciales de la adquisición de la L2. The aim of the present work was to test several predictions derived from the revised hierarchical model, proposed by Kroll and coworkers (Kroll, 1993; Kroll and Sholl, 1992; Kroll and Stewart, 1994) to explain the bilingual memory organization. Expert bilinguals of Spanish and German and subjects who had been previously taught fictitious German translations of five colour names (novice subjects) performed a bilingual (Spanish-German) version of the Stroop task. Both bilingual and novice subjects showed an interference effect both within-and between-languages. These results didn't confirm the prediction derived from the revised hierarchical model, concerning the lexical and conceptual representation in bilingual memory in novice subjects. Instead, they suggested that connections between the second language (L2) and the conceptual store could begin to be established even at the very early stages of L2 acquisition.
- Jan 2001
En: Cognitiva Madrid 2001, v. 13, n. 2; p. 131-153 Se ponen a prueba algunas de las predicciones del modelo jerárquico revisado, propuesto por Kroll y sus colaboradores ( Kroll, 1993; Kroll y Sholl, 1992; Kroll y Stewart, 1994) para intentar explicar la organización de la memoria bilingüe. Para ello, sujetos bilingües competentes de castellano y alemán y sujetos a los cuales se les habían enseñado los nombres ficticios de cinco colores en alemán ( sujetos principiantes) realizaron una versión bilingüe (castellano-alemán) de la tarea de Stroop. Los resultados mostraron que tanto en los sujetos bilingües como en los principiantes se producía una interferencia intralengua y entre lenguas. Los resultados no confirmaron la predicción del modelo jerárquico revisado respecto a la representación léxica y conceptual en la memoria bilingüe en sujetos principiantes. Sugerieron, en cambio, que las conexiones entre la segunda lengua ( L2) y el sistema conceptual podrían empezar a establecerse ya en las fases iniciales de la adquisición de la L2, p.119-121
- Jan 1997
The present study investigated the effects of perinatal flumazenil (Ro 15-1788, a benzodiazepine receptor antagonist), given from gestational day 15 to the 14th day after giving birth, at two doses (3.5 and 6.3 mg/kg/ day) on the behavior of female RLA/Verh rats. This rat line has been selectively bred for non-acquisition of two-way active avoidance. Offspring of treated/non-treated dams were tested when adults for two-way active (shuttle box) avoidance acquisition. For comparison reasons additional offspring coming from the same treatments were used in an hyponeophagia test and in both an open field and a plus maze tests. The results show that perinatal flumazenil, specially the lower dose (and also the highest dose, although only in the final phases of the shuttle box training) was able to improve two-way active avoidance acquisition, as it has been previously found with males, whereas it failed to show any effect in the hyponeophagia task, the open field and the plus-maze tests. As two-way active avoidance acquisition can be enhanced both by reducing emotionality/anxiety or by improving memory, it is suggested that flumazenil treatment could have affected either one or both processes.
- Dec 1996
The present studies evaluated whether or not postnatal handling (PH) (administered during the first 21 days of life) could enduringly improve coping behavior with novel and/or conflict situations. To this purpose, different groups of naive male rats (control and PH-treated) were submitted in separate experiments to 1 of the 3 following situations: an emotional reactivity test (in 4-month-old animals), an open-field session followed by endocrine measurements (in 7-month-old animals) and a punished drinking test (in 11-month-old animals). PH effects were significant in the 3 situations: handled animals were less resistant to capture or to the handling manouvers involved in the emotional reactivity test: the hormonal responses (corticosterone, prolactin, and ACTH changes) during and after an open-field stress were less intense, and PH effects lasted up to 11 months in the punished drinking test, as measured by a higher number of punished responses and less time spent freezing by handled animals during the punished period. The results are discussed in relation to previous evidence showing a long-lasting reduction of fearfulness in rats due to postnatal handling.
- Jan 1996
The Swiss sublines of Roman high- and low-avoidance (RHA/Verh and RLA/Verh) rats have been selected and bred for rapid (RHA/Verh) vs. extremely poor (RLA/Verh) acquisition of two-way active avoidance. Behavioral and physiological measures of emotionality, or reactivity to stress, appear to be among the most prominent characteristics differentiating both rat lines. The present study shows that RLA/Verh rats are more sensitive, as compared to their RHA/Verh counterparts, to the conflict involved in the shock-induced suppression of drinking paradigm, as well as in a hyponeophagia test. RLA/Verh rats also showed higher defecation values which were significantly correlated with the main hyponeophagia test variables. Likewise, self-grooming was more frequent in RLA/Verh rats than in their RHA/Verh counterparts and showed significant correlations with conflict-related behaviors (i.e., latency to start eating and time spent eating) from the hyponeophagia test. These results give additional support to the contention that RLA/Verh rats present higher anxiety (emotionality) than their RHA/Verh counterparts.
- Dec 1995
Utilizing psychogenetically selected Roman high- and low-avoidance rats (RHA/Verh and RLA/Verh), the present experiments investigated the effects of prenatally administered vehicle and diazepam (1 and 3 mg/kg per day, SC) on the behavior and neurochemistry of adult, male offspring. Active, two-way avoidance behavior was analyzed in 96 rats, at 6 months of age, and swimming navigation in 68 others, at 11 months. Three weeks after testing, selected brain areas from the latter animals were immunoassayed for benzodiazepine (BZD)-like molecules. The 3 mg/kg dose of diazepam both decreased freezing behavior in the shuttle box and reduced the hippocampal content of BZD-like molecules in the RLA/Verh male rats. Swimming navigation (spatial learning), at which the RLA/Verh rats were more adept, was not specifically affected by prenatal diazepam in either rat line. The possibility exists that an increased hippocampal release of BZD-like substances may be necessary to alter shuttle box behavior in RLA/Verh rats.
The present studies evaluated the short- and long-lasting effects of postnatal handling (administered during the first 21 days of life) on the emotional behavior of female Sprague-Dawley rats. The performance of postnatally handled (H) and control nonhandled (NH) animals was compared in two different situations: an emotionality rating (ER) test (when they were 40 days or 4 months old), and a hyponeophagia (neophobia) test of anxiety, at the age of 4 months. The results showed that postnatal handling induced both short-term and long-term reductions of spontaneous emotional reactivity in the ER test, although the effects on some measures disappeared in 4-month-old rats. Postnatal handling also induced enduring decreases of anxiety as measured by the hyponeophagia test. None of the observed effects were attributable to changes in basal locomotor activity. ER measures were significantly related to hyponeophagia, because animals showing the highest emotionality scores in the ER test (preferentially NH animals) were those that showed the highest eating latencies and spent less time eating in the neophobic situation (i.e., hyponeophagia test).
The present study evaluated whether postnatal handling (PH; administered daily during the first 21 days of life) could reduce anxiety or emotional reactivity in tasks of either spontaneous or conditioned fear-related behavior. To this purpose control nonhandled and postnatally handled female rats were submitted to three different behavioral tests: an emotionality rating (ER) followed by an elevated plus-maze test of anxiety in one experiment, and an acquisition of two-way active (shuttlebox) avoidance under two different training conditions in a separate experiment. Significant effects of PH treatment appeared in the three testing situations, clearly indicating an important and enduring reduction of emotionality/anxiety in PH-treated rats. Of special interest were the results of shuttlebox training: by shortening the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the intertrial interval (ITI) duration, avoidance acquisition was impaired as expected but the improving effects of PH were even more marked. The results are discussed in relation to previous studies reporting controversial results in the same (or similar) testing situations.
- Feb 1994
The possible involvement of anxiety and learning/memory processes in escape-directed (struggling) behavior in a two-trial swimming test was investigated in mice, as well as the differential effects that low doses of flumazenil (a benzodiazepine receptor antagonist) could display depending on the animals' anxiety levels. Mice showing less anxiety in the plus-maze test exhibited less struggling behavior in the first swimming trial than the more anxious animals, suggesting a relationship between anxiety and struggling behavior in the swimming test. Flumazenil (5 mg/kg) given before the first swimming trial displayed differential effects depending upon the animals' anxiety levels. Thus, it increased struggling behavior in the first swimming trial in 'low-anxiety' mice whereas the opposite tendency was observed in 'high-anxiety' animals. Struggling decreased in the second swimming trial in all the animals, giving support to the involvement of learning/memory processes in the two-trial swimming test. That reduction in escape-directed behavior was greater in animals treated with flumazenil before the first swimming session, thus indicating a slight enhancement of retention.
Ante situaciones de alarma (o estrés), los organismos desencadenan una serie de reacciones fisiológicas que, si bien son adaptativas, pueden producir a largo plazo efectos nocivos que se relacionan con los procesos neurales del envejecimiento. Se ha hipotetizado que dos manipulaciones efectuadas en las etapas iniciales del desarrollo -el enriquecimiento ambiental y la estimulación postnatal- podrían prevenir o aminorar los déficits cognitivos y neurales asociados al envejecimiento, y que lo harían mediante una reducción permanente de la reactividad emocional de los sujetos. El presente trabajo pretende revisar la principal evidencia que existe al respecto, y presentar resultados adicionales obtenidos en nuestro laboratorio que corroboran dicha hipótesis.
- Jun 1993
Problems in the application of exposure techniques to the management of long term dishabituation in addicts are discussed in the light of human and animal evidence. Extinction and habituation of responses to drug cues or drug aftereffects are unstable and strongly dependent on context, thus limiting the effectiveness of cue exposure treatments in the prevention of relapse. Several strategies are suggested to improve the stability of extinction and habituation in order to enduringly prevent relapse in addictions. (i) Warning patients about the episodic resurgence of unexpected urges or cravings precipitated by conditioned contexts and exposing them to such contexts. (ii) To obtain a maximum protection against relapse, extinction should 'recreate' all the original learning contexts (i.e. all possible drug cues). (iii) The behavioral chains involved in self administering drugs ought to be incorporated into cue exposure treatments (without permitting consummatory responses) in order to decrease their signal value as cues for drugs.